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“If Pat McCrory believes in a healthy North Carolina, he should veto HB 465!”

“Keep Your Promise, McCrory” tour stop in Charlotte: Speech by Reia Chapman, North Carolina Organizer for SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective and an Advisory Council Member of Social Workers for Reproductive Justice

Good Afternoon. My name is Reia Chapman, and I am here on behalf of Women Voting Our Values and as a NC resident in opposition to House Bill 465.

SisterSong is a Southern based, national membership organization and our purpose is to build an effective network of individuals and organizations to improve institutional policies and systems that impact the lives of marginalized communities. SisterSong’s mission is to strengthen and amplify the collective voices of Indigenous women and women of color to achieve reproductive justice (RJ) by eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights.

Reproductive Justice is defined as the right to have children, not have children, to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments, and the right to bodily autonomy — and is based on an individual’s human right to make personal decisions about their life. The obligation of government and society to ensure that the conditions are suitable for implementing one’s decisions is imperative for women of color.

As a RJ activist, I can say with certainty that abortions – like contraception and pre & post natal care – are a part of women’s overall reproductive healthcare and they should remain legal, accessible, affordable and safe. And as community organizer here in NC, I can say with certainty that abortion restrictions like state-mandated waiting periods are the wrong priority for my community.

Women of color are already limited with access to healthcare services in North Carolina. For example, when Medicaid expansion in NC was denied, over half-a-million North Carolinians remained at risk – especially the citizens in rural North Carolina that face financial and physical barriers to receiving preventative health care and health education as well as treatment for existing health problems.

HB 465 represents the very thing Governor McCrory agreed not to do: INCREASE ABORTION RESTRICTIONS! We charge this as Reproductive Oppression! Reproductive oppression is the control and exploitation of women, girls, and individuals through our bodies, sexuality, labor, and reproduction. Restricting a woman’s right to the full range of reproductive healthcare in essence controls the destiny of entire communities through the bodies of women and individuals.

unnamed-10Forcing women into motherhood has serious implications.   History and research indicate that desperation is dangerous which is why we must fight against any type of legislation that seeks to prohibit our Reproductive Freedom. We cannot forget that before Roe v Wade (1973) made abortion legal in this county women were losing their lives because they were trying to take care of themselves.

Oppressive legislation such as HB 465 further contributes to the marginalization of the most vulnerable communities in NC, and making women wait for 72 hours is dangerous and abusive. Mandatory delays create additional burdens for North Carolina women especially women in rural areas who have to travel many hours outside of their communities to reach a healthcare provider.

This is bigger than abortion. This is about trusting women and their ability to do what is best for themselves because we do not know their story. Therefore, we must eradicate any barriers that impact their reproductive decisions. This is not a singular issue with a single issue solution. Audrey Lorde stated “there is no such thing as a single issue because we don’t live single-issue lives.”

Representative Jacqueline Schaffer said in a statement before the house that “The poorest decisions that we make are the ones we make under pressure and on impulse.” The timetable proposed is medically unnecessary. The implication here is that women lack the capacity to consider their own needs, desires, and options. This is a matter of Reproductive Freedom. Women in NC are not making business transactions with regard to their Reproductive Health. We need to trust women to make reproductive choices for themselves.

Instead of limiting access to healthcare for NC women, We need our legislators focusing on:

  • Improving awareness of existing health care programs, like Medicaid, Medicare, and Health Choice through community outreach programs.
  • Adjusting/simplifying the requirements of current programs, such as those listed above, to allow more/improved coverage for those in need.
  • Ensuring that rural counties receive more healthcare funding and improving healthcare access through increased incentives for doctors to open practices in rural areas and better managed/funded healthcare facilities.
  • Initiating programs for those with no transportation or limited transportation to receive care.
  • Establishing a living wage ordinance to insure that rural citizens have the funds necessary to incorporate preventative healthcare into their lives.
  • Asking citizens what they want or need in terms of healthcare. Encourage community involvement in implementing change in health care access through outreach groups. Get involved.

As I close, I must say as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, I am deeply concerned regarding the psychological impact and mental health of women who will be most affected by this measure. This is a critical time in the lives of all women. Daily we make choices around our reproductive health from what we eat, where we live, where we work, to who we’re intimate with and the type of healthcare support we need.IMG_3231

We believe it is essential to utilize the RJ frame as a means to unite women and their communities, be relevant to communities of color, and link to advocates from the nation’s capitol to the grassroots in order to develop proactive strategies to protect and preserve our lives.

We believe that RJ is achieved when all of us have the social, economic, and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families and our communities.

If Pat McCrory believes in a healthy North Carolina, he should veto HB 465!

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This Bill’s Unnecessary and Demeaning! #StopHB465

Anna Lobastova, Reproductive Justice Club at Appalachian State University Co-President 

Point blank: a 72 hour waiting period for healthcare is unnecessary and demeaning. Waiting periods for care may seem like just an arbitrary, bureaucratic annoyance, but it is so much more than that for anyone who has a work schedule, a family, a budget, or a health concern. Of course, this includes most – if not all – of North Carolinians. Waiting periods effectively require women to spend time making several trips to an abortion clinic, often requiring taking time off work, arranging for child care, and budgeting for gas or hotel expenses, especially when the clinic requires an in-person initial visit.

11178241_850745425014074_8084658354802798306_nNot all women can afford to jump over these unnecessary hoops in order to receive care, and they shouldn’t have to! Waiting periods are a frequently used, transparent tactic for politicians seeking to control women’s bodies and to limit access to necessary medical procedures. They are insulting to women who have already made a choice, and outright dangerous to many who for whom abortion is a necessity due to a medical condition.

Student activists across North Carolina are paying attention to oppressive legislation, and the Reproductive Justice Club at Appalachian State University strongly opposes House Bill 465. My Co-President, Maddie Majerus, and I will be rallying with NARAL NC and Planned Parenthood against this unjustified and demeaning legislation on May 11th at 4:30PM in Downtown Raleigh. Join us! If you cannot attend one of the rallies across the state, please sign this petition to urge Governor McCrory to VETO HB 465, NOW! 

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NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina Statement: H.B. 465 in NO Way Helps Women

Shoshannah Sayers, Esq., Interim Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice NC 

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina opposes House Bill 465 because it will not help women. The bill’s 72-hour abortion waiting period regulation is medically unnecessary. We are disappointed that at today’s House Health Committee meeting, only one pro-choice speaker was allowed to be heard. We brought a number of physicians and medical professionals prepared to speak to the problems with this bill and their information was never allowed to reach House Committee members.

H.B. 465 would make it harder for women, who have made a choice about their own body, by making them wait 72 hours, instead of the current 24 hour period, between asking for an abortion and being legally permitted to get one. Mandatory delay laws such as these would endanger women’s health and create additional burdens for North Carolina women, especially women in rural areas who often have to travel for many hours to reach a health-care provider, and for women who do not have the resources to take extra time off work or to pay for child-care. According to a study conducted in Texas, on average, women travel 42 miles to visit their nearest clinic (although some women had to travel up to 400 miles) and incur an average of $146 in costs due to the additional waiting period. These restrictions have a disproportional impact on low-income women, women of color, immigrant women, and young women. Women who want to get abortions, but are denied, are three times more likely to fall into poverty than those who can get an abortion, according to recent studies.

The study also showed that waiting periods do not do anything to sway women’s decisions about terminating a pregnancy, but are simply emotional manipulation tactics to shame women and make them feel guilty about making decisions about their own bodies. One third of the participants in the study said the waiting period negatively effected their well-being.

In the 1992 case, Planned Parenthood v. Casy, Justice John Paul Stevens pointed out that mandatory waiting periods rest “on outmoded or unacceptable assumptions about the decision-making capacity of women.” The message being sent by state legislatures, essentially, is “you must be crazy if you want to obtain an abortion — maybe think about it some more and you’ll come to your senses.”

Suffice it to say that safe medical procedures sought by men, such as vasectomies, are not burdened with such waiting periods.

The bill also increases burdens for the doctors who assist women by performing abortions.

Doctors will have to record detailed information about the “unborn child” including gestational age and ultrasounds with measurements. The bill would even require extensive records from doctors who perform an abortion for the health and safety of the mother. This information would then be submitted to DHHS but only after the doctors have taken the time to remove all identifying information.  The only purpose for these rules seem to be to add in so many requirements that abortions will be too much of a hassle for doctors to perform.

In summary, H.B. 465 in NO way helps North Carolina women and families.

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Shoshannah Sayers, Esq.

Interim Executive Director

NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina

(919) 536-8191

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Shackling Pregnant Women Violates Basic Health and Human Rights

When most women think about giving birth, they picture a hospital room surrounded by caring doctors and nurses who do everything they can to make mothers comfortable. Sadly, this is just a dream for the thousands of pregnant women currently in prison. According to the New York Times, about 2,000 female inmates give birth in prisons every year. Many of these women are shackled during the process, which involves harsh restraining mechanisms. Shackling most often occurs right before or during delivery, but many women are even shackled right after giving birth. This practice compromises the health and human rights of mothers and their newborn babies, and must be prevented.

Shackling Compromises the Health of Mothers and Babies

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Restraints used in shackling significantly interfere with labor and delivery. Some women experience relief from labor pains while on their sides, but restraints only allow women to remain on their backs. A lack of ability to move can result in injury from movement during contractions, and medical staff may not be able to properly evaluate mother and baby. Furthermore, pregnant incarcerated women are often shackled in labor without first undergoing important tests, such as HIV transmission prevention to the baby.

Post-delivery recovery is another concern in incarcerated women. Even if the mother is allowed to give birth without shackles, she is usually placed back in handcuffs immediately after delivery. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends at least four to six weeks of recovery post-delivery—some women need longer depending on whether a cesarean section is used. Shackling a new mother right after delivery does not allow her the right to recover properly, and increases the risk for infection, muscle strains, and bleeding.

Analyzing the Absurdities

Many prisons try to justify shackling of pregnant women because of fears of escape. The reality is that once a woman is in labor, she is unlikely to do so. In fact, the New York Times reports that there has been no case of an unshackled pregnant woman ever escaping after going into labor. Furthermore, the fact is that the majority of jailed women are serving time for non-violent crimes, such as drug offenses, so the likelihood of violence is slim to none.

Privacy is another human rights concern surrounding this practice. In North Carolina, many incarcerated women are forced to give birth in shackles while in prison, rather than being transported to a hospital for proper care. This means that, in addition to medical staff, prison guards and other officials are in the room during delivery. New mothers are often stressed enough without having the additional worries of strangers being involved in their most intimate moments.

Other States by the Numbers

Despite the fact that 21 states have technically outlawed these shackling practices, there are significant gaps in implementation. Part of the problem is a lack of training for correctional officers. Another issue is a loophole in many state laws, which gives authorities the right to shackle pregnant women if they deem there to be any “risks.” Sadly, we often don’t hear about these cases until after the female victims are released from prison. Local jails house the highest number of pregnant women compared to federal prisons.

Another issue surrounds the shackling of pregnant immigrants who are being held in detention centers. This is partly due to the fact that illegal immigrants are often housed in county jails. While the ACLU acknowledges the fact the U.S. passed a law in early 2014 banishing shackling of pregnant immigrants, the practice still continues because of supposed safety concerns.

Making the Change in NC

When it comes to incarcerated pregnant women, there is simply nothing good about the practice of shackling. Not only is such a practice detrimental to the health of both mother and baby, it is an extreme violation of human rights. Despite the attempts of making shackling practices illegal, this continues to be a problem in North Carolina prisons. Unfortunately, the female inmates in these situations don’t have voices to solve the problem. North Carolinians must speak out for these women, and for the reproductive rights of all women.

Resources

About the Author0961766

Kristeen Cherney is a freelance health and lifestyle writer passionate about social issues. Her work has been published on numerous health-related websites. Previously, she worked as a communications and marketing professional. Kristeen holds a BA in Communication from Florida Gulf Coast University, and is currently pursuing an MA in English. When she’s not writing or studying, she enjoys walking, kick-boxing, yoga, and traveling.

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Women’s History Month Highlight: Susan Hill

Hannah Osborne, Campus Organizer at NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina 

Susan Hill, a Durham native, a social worker, an abortion provider, an advocate, and a resilient and compassionate human being, worked tirelessly for the reproductive freedom ALL women. Weeks after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, Susan worked with others to start and open the doors of the first abortion clinic in Florida. She was a woman of action. In her lifetime, she defended the freedom of thousands of women. At NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, we work to protect and advance the reproductive rights of women and families in our state. Her work serves as daily inspiration for us. Susan left an incredible legacy. It is our goal to make her work a truly living legacy. So, on this final day of Women’s History Month, we honor, celebrate, and remember Susan Hill.

Susan Hill fought to secure the rights of all women. I am grateful for her efforts, and I am here to defend her work. Based on recent events, it is clear that we cannot take human rights for granted. Just last week our state legislature introduced Senate Bill 604, containing new restrictions on abortion providers. Roe V. Wade did more than grant me equality to decide what is best for my body, it secured my freedom. But it did not secure every woman’s freedom. Susan Hill understood that the right to have an abortion does not guarantee the ability to access that right. So, in 1975 Susan established the National Women’s Health Organization, a group of abortion clinics in the most underserved areas of the country. With this work, she laid the legal foundation for access to abortion services around the United States.

Susan Hill 1-thumb-225x324-9092This blog has merely touched on Susan Hill’s work and impact. I encourage you to read more about her legacy. In addition, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina invites you to join us for our 5th Annual Spring into Action: an evening in honor of Susan Hill. Dr. Willie Parker, one of two heroic doctors who travel to Mississippi’s last remaining abortion clinic to provide abortion care to women across the Deep South, will be this year’s keynote speaker. Like Susan Hill, Dr. Parker is unrelenting in his commitment to helping women and families, even in the face of grave danger.​ We will also present the 2015 Susan Hill Award to Dr. Ward Cates for his work his work as a researcher and tireless champion for access to safe and legal abortion care.

For Women’s History Month, we honor Susan Hill for establishing clinics across the South in the most underserved areas, protecting the freedom of women, and fighting for access. In her work, she encountered countless obstacles and faced personal danger, including death threats and harassment. Yet, she kept working! She kept working for the freedom of all women. Like Susan, we must keep working. Let us honor Susan and her legacy through our work.

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Women’s History Month Highlight: Anne Majerus

Maddie Majerus, Co-President of the Reproductive Justice Club at ASU and Appalachian State University Senior

Before writing this, I had to ask myself, who in the reproductive justice movement inspires me the most? Who do I do my activist work for? Who am I hoping to change the world for? The answer to these questions is simple: for my younger sister, Anne, and all the other children in her generation.

Anne MajerusAt age fourteen, Anne was participating in photo campaigns for NARAL Pro-Choice NC, bringing her friends to their events, and discussing feminism with her classmates. As a first year student in high school, she proudly has a “Fight Like a GRRRL” sticker on her phone case, and an “I <3 Pro-Choice NC” sticker across her laptop. Anne does not let others tell her what to do or what to think; she holds steadfast in the face of adversity and is not afraid of being disliked for her beliefs. Whenever I am home from college, she tells stories about how her friends at high schools all across the Triangle are calling people out on their sexism, educating others about what is means to be a feminist, and standing up for themselves and each other.

I remember one occasion in particular when I was driving Anne and her friend, Hannah, to the mall so they could buy dresses for their eighth grade dance. They were talking about the dress code for the dance, and how it was unfair that the dress code revolved around what the girls could wear and did not involve the boys at all. Hannah said, “I’m not allowed to wear a strapless dress in case a boy tries to pull it down. Why don’t they just tell the boys not to do that? Its not fair that I’m the one with rules.”

It was such a simple question, but one that I would have never asked when I was their age. Throughout middle school and high school, I blindly accepted my schools’ dress codes that labeled certain clothing for girls “distracting.” I did not think to question why so many of my female classmates were pulled out of class and could not return to the classroom until their parents brought them a change of clothes so that their bra strap was no longer showing, or so the extra half inch of their leg was covered. I never stopped to ask, “Why isn’t this also happening to the boys?”

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to serve on a panel at the Feminist Majority Foundation’s 11th annual National Young Feminist Leadership Conference in Arlington, VA and was blown away by the number of high school students in attendance, coming from all corners of the nation. These young feminists are running social justice clubs in their high schools, helping send children to school in other countries, and doing all they can to educate themselves in order to educate others. As someone who did not become heavily involved with social justice activism until my sophomore year in college, I was and am astounded and humbled by what these young people are doing and the conversations they are having. Their understanding of the issues facing our country and our world surpasses even that of some of my college-age friends.

Seeing the work my little sister, Anne, and her peers do for reproductive justice, feminism, and social justice is truly inspiring. They can’t even vote yet, and they are organizing their communities to effect positive change! It gives me great hope for our future. The next generation of young leaders are going to be quite the force to be reckoned with!

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Women’s History Month Highlight: Professor Angela Davis

Ashton Billingsley, NARAL Pro-Choice NC Intern and NC State University Junior

Angela Davis is a writer, a college professor, an activist, and a feminist. She has challenged the oppression of women, especially women of color, and also takes the time to acknowledge the impact of women’s rights from a global perspective. Specifically, Professor Davis focused much of her research on tracing women’s oppression through history.

Professor Davis wrote, “Birth control — individual choice, safe contraceptive methods, as well as abortions when necessary — is a fundamental prerequisite for the emancipation of women.” This particular stance on reproductive rights is crucial to understanding why birth control and abortion access fit into a feminist agenda. Professor Davis highlights the connection between the right to birth control and the right for women to choose what happens to their own bodies.

MLK-Angela-DavisDavis is currently a Feminist Studies professor in California and continues to advocate for reproductive justice as well as many other reform platforms. As we approach the last week of Women’s History Month, I encourage each of you to reflect on how our society would be different without reproductive choice. We are not truly free without reproductive freedom and access. The world would be a different and much darker place without people like Professor Davis. Please join me in thanking Angela Davis!